Wounded, By Percival Everett

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The Independent Culture

The 13th novel by the versatile and undervalued American writer Percival Everett is narrated by John Hunt, a black, middle-aged horse trainer who lives with his animals and his ex-con uncle on a ranch in the Wyoming desert, and whose measured, engaging voice is the principal among several pleasures that the book offers. Another is the tender love story that develops between him and his nearest neighbour, Morgan. The laconic dialogue is great too: "I find I can't get things done unless I do them," or "He's tenser than a Republican with a thought of his own."

There's a murder at the beginning of the novel, and it certainly grips like a thriller. But it isn't giving away too much to say that the most likely suspects did it, and that Wounded isn't concerned with plot mechanics but with rich human drama. It's about a man who'd shunned the company of people being forced to involve himself in the affairs of others, and discovering that he has so much more to give than he'd realised, and more to lose too.